Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy brands and sad ones.

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This quotation, by way of Leo Tolstoy's first line of "Anna Karenina" goes a long way, I think of explaining the current mania of "agencies of the future" jumping off new media cliffs.

Here's what I mean. Say you are toiling on a client I'll call "Amalgamated Adipose and Suet." Hardly anyone, including your client, knows who your brand is. And, at best, very few people will, on purpose interact with suet. But before long, some bright young person will decide you need a social media strategy, that you need to create a presence on "Pinterest" (where Harold Pinter relaxes at the end of the day) and you need to create massive amounts of content for online use.

This is what Nike does, they'll say. Or Apple does it this way. Or did you see the cool thing that so-and-so did online?

For many years--in this space and others--I've been fighting against the OUS--the One Universal Strategy. That is: make our brand cool and relevant to 27-year-old boys. Most advertising we see follows the OUS. Further, they seek to replicate the success of inherently cool brands in cool categories without considering that Mop n' Glo is unlikely to have an impact on popular culture no matter what you do.

Here's the deal, at least for this morning.

There are a few brands that can capitalize of their inculcation within the public consciousness. But most brands aren't that blessed. And never will be. People won't lust after them. People won't talk about them. 

This is not to say that an "unhappy" brand can't be made more relevant and popular. But you can't--for every brand, in every circumstance run your marketing by asking "What does Nike do?"
Just as I can't go to a bar at night thinking I'm George Clooney.

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